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Thursday, 11 September 2003
Page: 19915

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (4:30 PM) —Today, whether by naivety or through propaganda, the Prime Minister persisted with a claim that Iraq has something to do with the restoration of democracy. Today, 11 September, is also the anniversary of an event that affected far more Australians—30,000 Chilean refugees and their families in this country. They were part of coup which led to one million Chileans leaving the country, the deaths of at least 4,000 people, the torture of 50,000 people and the imprisonment of 150,000 to 200,000 people. That was instigated by the United States of America as revealed by congressional hearings. The American government was concerned with agrarian reform, nationalisation, income redistribution, cheap housing loans, day care centres and reforms as miniscule as the provision of milk for children, all instituted by the Allende government.

After the implementation of what the Pinochet government described as `authoritarian democracy' and their declared state of defence against subversion in 1973, we had a situation where they not only tortured internal dissidents, deprived people of employment, tortured thousands but also instigated murders outside the country. The most infamous of course was of Chile's former foreign minister, Orlando Letellier, who was bombed with his assistant, Ronnie Moffatt, in New York City. Carlos Prats, a general in the Chilean military, who adhered to democracy, was murdered with his wife in Buenos Aires. That was instigated by DIMA, the secret service of the Chilean dictatorship. There have been comments by the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, that Chile had to be saved from itself, that it had made an error by democratically electing a government that America did not like. Thirty years ago, 1973, was also the year that the military overthrew democracy in Uruguay. This was part of a picture of US interference in the hemisphere which in no way reflected the tones behind the original Monroe doctrine.

Pamela Pereira, a socialist member of the Chilean parliament recently said:

Where are these two figures now?

She was speaking about Allende and Pinochet. She also said:

One is immortalised by a statue, by La Moneda—

That is actually the presidential palace—

the other has to pretend to be mad. History has put them in their proper place.

As we know, Pinochet has not found safety in leaving Chile. Spanish magistrates have pursued him over the deaths of Spanish citizens. We know that many others—Germans, Swiss, Americans—were murdered by the Chilean government. He is not safe in Europe, but he has had to come up with this pretence that he is insane to save himself.

Mr Slipper —How old is he?

Mr LAURIE FERGUSON —He is in his 80s. Your close friend, the former Prime Minister of Britain, was of course a comfort to him in his difficult times when he was surrounded by police. We have a situation today where only 40 people have been convicted. I support the new initiatives by the Chilean government announced in the last few weeks to offer lower ranking officers protection, essentially, if they give evidence against their supervisors.

As I say, the situation there by any international standard was reprehensible. A year ago, Luciano Carrasco burned himself to death in Santiago because of the failure of the Chilean authorities to drive home the culprits behind his father's death. Today there is a hunger strike in Chile in commemoration of that affair. In 1973, the military regime overthrew the democratically elected government. The United States utilised its pressure in regard to the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and other institutions to try and destroy the government. Evidence has subsequently shown that money was transported from the United States to cause industrial unrest and undermine the democratic government. These operatives not only carried out these measures within Chile but resorted to terrorism internationally—even in the United States. But of course there was complicity by the CIA and other US institutions.